DEWITT — If there has been a weakness for the Pleasant Valley High School baseball program in recent seasons, it has been getting out of the starting blocks slowly.
The Spartans hovered around .500 for the first 22 games in 2019 before a torrid July resulted in a trip to the state tournament.
Even in a delayed start to the season last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they didn’t win their 10th game of the season until July 10.
Coach Derek Stecklein’s team has been like a world-class sprinter of the chute this summer.
Class 4A second-ranked PV moved to 10-0 with a 12-3 and 3-1 Mississippi Athletic Conference sweep of 3A third-ranked Central DeWitt on Thursday night at the Central DeWitt Complex.
“It is big to get our momentum going early,” PV senior outfielder Ryan Mumey said. “In the past, we’ve had slow starts and had to battle our way up going into the postseason.
“To sit here undefeated, it gives us great momentum and great confidence.”
PV hasn’t beat up on subpar teams, either. It swept preseason No. 1 Ankeny on the road, stifled Iowa City West last week and edged state-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie earlier this week.
“These guys have been very committed since the very beginning with us in everything we wanted to do,” Stecklein said. “They’ve embraced it and they’ve embraced the fact people are going to be after us a little bit.
“It is exciting, but we still have a lot to learn about ourselves.”
PV added to its impressive resume with a convincing sweep over the Sabers.
The Spartans erupted for 16 hits in the opener. Mumey was 4-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. Catcher Ryan Thoreson had three hits and was on base all five times.
“We haven’t really gotten a ton of barrels so far this year,” Thoreson said. “It has been a lot of free bases, so it was good to hit our way around the bases a little bit.”
PV (10-0, 4-0 MAC) broke Game 1 open with a five-run sixth and three-run seventh.
With a doubleheader against rival Maquoketa scheduled for Friday night, Central DeWitt (6-2, 2-2) used a half-dozen pitchers in the opener to save arms.
“We had a plan, but it didn’t quite work out like we wanted in that first game,” Sabers coach Shane Sikkema said. “We had a couple guys not execute pitches like we were hoping and it got out of hand in the sixth and seventh innings.
“We wanted to have everyone available for (Friday). With a team as good as (PV), we were behind the eight-ball anyhow. That was the best route for us to go.”
PV struck for three early runs in the nightcap. Mumey had two more hits and drove in two runs. Barrett Lindmark also had a two-out, run-scoring single against John McConohy.
Mumey had a half-dozen hits in the two games.
“He’s starting to see it well,” Stecklein said. “He’s done a fantastic job of making adjustments on his own."
Southpaw Matthew Meyer, who had thrown only one inning and 14 pitches all season, worked six innings for the Spartans to get the win. He consistently worked ahead in the count and finished with five strikeouts. Alex Clemons pitched a scoreless seventh to earn his fifth save of the season.
“Matthew is a tireless worker and has done a fantastic job for us in everything he does,” Stecklein said. “His location was really good and he got ahead on a ton of their hitters.”
Central DeWitt kept the nightcap close. It never could generate the timely hit as the Sabers didn’t have an extra-base hit in the two games.
“Maybe coach should have bunted a little more here and there to get a runner in scoring position,” Sikkema said. “Overall, we did a good job of putting the ball in play against their good pitchers.
“You hate to lose, but we’ll see what happens (Friday).”